VIDEO: Texas Law Helps Protect Football Players

May 9, 2011  

By Wesleigh Ogle
wogle@smu.edu

It’s no secret that Texas revolves around football, but new legislation is bringing it into the spotlight.

Because of the high number of concussions on high school football fields, Texas House and Senate members have approved two measures that protect players.

One bill seeks to retire public school football helmets after they’re 16 years old and make sure that helmets ten years or older are reconditioned every two years.

But Allen High School athletic director Mike Harrison doesn’t think this bill is necessary.

“It’s going to be very difficult to try to make a better helmet out there, and if there’s a helmet anyone out there says prevents concussions, they’re wrong,” Harrison said.

Harrison thinks the bill that requires high school football programs to have “concussion management teams” will be beneficial and cost effective.

This team will evaluate players who suffer concussions to determine when they can return to the field.

“The fear is having a second impact syndrome and returning the player back to the field too early. I’m not concerned with their play as I am with their quality of life in the future,” Harrison said.

Running back Jonathan Williams has never suffered a concussion, but he recognizes the danger.

“Head injuries are everlasting so you want to protect your head at all times because it could be worse later in life,” he said.

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that close to 50 percent of high school football players suffer a concussion each season and one player sustains a mild concussion in nearly every American football game.

Michael Murtha has taken on the job of football team manager because he suffered six concussions.

“I forgot how to do everything from 8th grade math on, so it took three months to re-teach me math,” he said.

“I’m really upset but I’m glad that the doctors were smart enough to tell me to stop playing. That way I don’t have injuries down the line,” Murtha said.

Harrison reiterated the importance of a new concussion bill.

“I want to see them compete just as much as the next kid out there, but the ultimate goal is to have that player come back and see me in ten years and recognize who I am, be successful in life, and not have the prolonged problems that a lot of athletes are having,” Harrison said.

Harrison said he is grateful that the NFL is bringing attention to the danger of concussions.

If passed both bills will take effect September 1, 2011.

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Comments

One Response to “VIDEO: Texas Law Helps Protect Football Players”

  1. dirk knudsen on May 9th, 2011 3:33 pm

    Let me say this. Texas is the heart of Football. As a Coach and a Player. But if you don’t all get with those of us trying to solve this crisis your going to kill the game.

    Mr. Harrison apparently does not realize that Schutt just made it a Policy that Helmets should be disposed of after 10 years. How is the heck is he going to say that the boys of Texas don’t deserve better?

    He is wrong and if he put helmets on those boys that are older then 10 years and there is an injury then he is can be held accountable and under 2 or 3 current suits in the courts can be held criminally negligent. Period.

    So get rid of a helmet at least after 10 years or sooner. For God sakes.

    Now to the second point. It is great to have a concussion team to determine what should be done. But depending who is on that Team it may be worse the better.

    No body affiliated with the school other then a team doctor or trainer should be able to make that call and only if there is confirmation from outside medical professionals who are trained in the most recent Brain Injury and Concussion Management techniques.

    Return to Play needs to include at least a week off after the player exhibits no further signs of concussion and should require that the player pass a neuro-cognitive baseline test to show he is able to perform cognitive skills at or above his off season baseline scores.

    Once Texas does that the State will begin to address the very serious epidemic we are in. If we do not all fix this it will be the end of High School and Youth Football as we know it.

    Thanks and we do applaud your efforts!

    Dirk Knudsen
    Director
    BrainChampions.org